Part 610 - UPDATING SOIL SURVEYS
Table of Contents
PART TITLE PAGE
610.00 Definition and Purpose........................................................................................................... 610-1
610.01 Policy and Responsibilities .................................................................................................... 610-1
610.02 Long-Range Plan.................................................................................................................... 610-3
610.03 Update Strategies ................................................................................................................... 610-4
610.04 Project Plan ............................................................................................................................ 610-6
610.05 Annual Plan of Operation (APO) ........................................................................................... 610-9
610.06 Certification of Soils Data...................................................................................................... 610-9
610.07 Publication of Soils Data...................................................................................................... 610-10
Exhibit 610-1 Resources for the Inventory and Assessment Report ................................................... 610-11
Exhibit 610-2 Information Items for the Inventory and Assessment Report ...................................... 610-13
Exhibit 610-3 Sample Inventory and Assessment Report for Long-Range Planning ......................... 610-14
Exhibit 610-4 Sample Project Evaluation Worksheet ......................................................................... 610-17
Exhibit 610-5 Example of a Project Evaluation Ranking Procedure .................................................. 610-19
Exhibit 610-6 Project Plan Checklist .................................................................................................. 610-21
Exhibit 610-7a Project Plan Examples .................................................................................................. 610-23
Exhibit 610-7b Project Plan Examples ................................................................................................. 610-24
Exhibit 610-7c Project Plan Examples .................................................................................................. 610-25
Exhibit 610-7d Project Plan Examples ................................................................................................. 610-26
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Part 610 - UPDATING SOIL SURVEYS
610.00 Definition and Purpose
(a) Definition. An MLRA soil survey update is a systematic process designed to improve official soil
survey products and information (see General Manual GM_430_402_A_402.5_A) with
consideration of the full extent of soils and map units across the major land resource area (see Part
649, Section 649.02 of this handbook). Updating by MLRA is a continuous activity of inventory and
assessment, data collection and synthesis, review, and recertification of existing soil survey
information that brings all soils information to a common standard. The MLRA soil survey update is
planned and organized using scheduled projects that systematically focus on specific groups of soils
or landforms and the associated support data, interpretations, and maps.
(b) Purpose. The MLRA process will develop a seamless coverage of soils information across the
Nation. Updating soil survey information by MLRA ensures that current and accurate soil survey
information is available to meet the needs of the majority of users and is delivered to the users in a
timely manner. Project plans are coordinated across the existing (i.e., “traditional” or “non-MLRA”)
soil survey area boundaries and follow natural landforms. The MLRA process eliminates biases in
soils data, interpretations, and maps arising from changes over time in technical knowledge, survey
standards, design, and political and land management boundaries inherent to the traditional soil
610.01 Policy and Responsibilities
(1) MLRA soil survey update activities are conducted as a series of projects developed to address
update needs prioritized by the MLRA SSO management team and approved by the MO board
of directors. Projects are developed in the context of the entire MLRA with the goal of
developing a seamless national product.
(2) Soil survey inventories and assessments are conducted on existing soil survey products to
identify deficiencies, errors, omissions, or inappropriateness in the data or maps in order to plan
and prioritize soil survey activities. The inventories and assessments are completed prior to
commencing update activities for the MLRA SSO area. (See General Manual
(3) An MLRA SSO long-range plan is developed based on the results of the inventory and
assessment. This document is reviewed annually and kept current.
(4) Project plans are developed by the MLRA SSO staff with assistance by the MLRA SSO
technical team (see Part 608 of this handbook). Project plans and project evaluations are
managed in NASIS.
(5) Projects are based on natural landforms over a broad physiographic area. Maps and data are
standardized to create seamless soil delineations that follow natural landforms and flow across
political boundaries (i.e., county, parish, etc.).
(6) A common map scale, map unit name, map unit design, and mapping intensity are used within
broad physiographic areas to provide soil information at a level commensurate with most user
(7) Annual plans of operation are developed to guide activities and provide specific focus to the
MLRA SSO staff.
(8) Project milestones are used to identify and document project activities.
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(9) Progress acres are reported when the project data is published to the Soil Data Warehouse.
(10) Correlation decisions are recorded in NASIS. All project data will undergo a 100 percent
quality control review followed by a quality assurance review (see Part 609 of this handbook).
(11) The completed project data is published as official soils information to the Soil Data Mart (see
General Manual GM_430_402_A_402.5).
Responsibility for the various aspects of updating soil surveys is held jointly by the soil survey
program leaders and managers at the State offices, MLRA soil survey regional offices (MO), and
MLRA soil survey offices (MLRA SSO) and, for some Federal lands, the NCSS partner agency
representatives. The NRCS General Manual, GM_430_402_A_402.10 outlines the responsibilities
of staff leaders in these offices. In addition to the following responsibilities, refer to Part 608,
Section 608.01 and Section 609.01 of this handbook for an overview of additional responsibilities.
(1) MLRA Soil Survey Regional Offices (MO)
The MO leaders:
(i) Participate as members of the MLRA SSO management teams, review the MLRA SSO
long-range plans, and assist in setting priorities;
(ii) Provide guidance to the MLRA SSO on initiating and carrying out the process of
updating soil survey information;
(iii) Conduct quality assurance reviews of the revised spatial and attribute databases as
specified in Part 609, Section 609.01;
(iv) Manage the assignment of editing permissions in NASIS and assure that individuals with
database edit privileges are properly trained; and
(v) Approve changes to soil survey legends proposed by the MLRA SSO and concurred by
the state soil scientist.
(2) State Offices
The state soil scientists:
(i) Provide administrative and management support to the MLRA SSOs located in their
(ii) Assure completion of long-range, project, and annual plans for MLRA SSOs under their
(iii) Lead the MLRA SSO management team for MLRA SSOs located in their State;
(iv) Participate in MLRA SSO management teams for MLRA SSOs that serve their State but
are located in adjoining States;
(v) Develop priorities for soil survey update projects with the MLRA management team
(vi) Inform and obtain concurrence of the state conservationists and leaders in partner
agencies for project plans to be carried out by the MLRA SSOs.
(3) MLRA Soil Survey Offices (MLRA SSO)
The MLRA SSO leaders:
(i) Develop a long-range plan for the MLRA SSO area;
(ii) Lead the MLRA SSO technical team and carry out its functions;
(iii) Develop project plans for prioritized update needs approved by the MO board of
(iv) Follow standard operating procedures of the MO region in conducting updates to soil
(v) Review the benchmark soils and propose changes to the MO;
(vi) Develop, populate, manage, and update all map unit information in NASIS;
(vii) Coordinate update activities with neighboring MLRA SSO staff;
(viii) Inform the MO, States, and NCSS cooperators of work being performed in the database;
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(ix) Maintain the correlation history of all map units; and
(x) Conduct quality control of the revised spatial and attribute databases as specified in Part
609, Section 609.01.
610.02 Long-Range Plan
(a) Definition. A long-range plan is the document that predicts future activities based upon a
continuation of current trends and needs. In soil survey, the long-range plan is used to document the
status of current soils information and identify emerging information needs. The long-range plan is
a succinct document presented to the MLRA management team and board of directors.
(b) Purpose. The long-range plan provides the framework for the MLRA update process. It assists in
creation of shorter-term soil survey projects with specific objectives, goals, strategies, and
milestones. The MLRA SSO staff, with input from the MLRA SSO technical team (see Part 608 of
this handbook), gathers information to develop the long-range plan for the MLRA SSO area. The
long-range plan identifies the customers and their needs, assists stakeholders in understanding the
value and condition of the soil survey information, and identifies the work necessary to improve
existing soil survey information and maps.
(c) Inventory and Assessment. An inventory and assessment of the existing soil survey information is
necessary to build the long-range plan.
(1) Existing soil survey data is inventoried and analyzed to determine completeness, accuracy, and
appropriateness for current land management decisions. Information is gleaned from soil survey
manuscripts, historical correlation documents, current staff experience, spatial analysis, field
office records, field office staff interviews, and soil survey laboratory data. It may come from
those who actively participated in the initial soil survey or from cooperators and users of the
information. Information necessary to build a long-range plan for the MLRA SSO area is
generally readily available. The information gathered during the inventory and assessment is
compiled and analyzed to build a long-range plan for the MLRA SSO area.
(2) The inventory and assessment identifies deficiencies and make recommendations for
improvement of the official soil survey information. Exhibit 610-1 is useful in identifying
resources to be compiled. Exhibit 610-2 is a list of items to be considered during the inventory
and assessment. The findings are recorded in the NASIS Legend Text table and used as
documentation in the long-range plan.
(3) The NASIS text notes provide a history of the inventory and assessment for future uses. The
following fields are populated for all evaluation notes: Kind is set to “miscellaneous notes,”
Category is set to “evaluation,” and Subcategory is set to “spatial,” “attribute,” or
“interpretation.” The NASIS NSSC Pangaea report named “MLRA -mgmt- Legend Evaluation
notes for LRP” (see Exhibit 610-3) compiles the legend text notes and includes additional
survey information used in writing the long-range plan.
(d) Long-Range Plan Development
The long-range plan is not intended to provide specific details. The long-range plan addresses
needs, issues, and concerns identified by the MLRA SSO during the inventory and assessment. It is
a dynamic document that can be revised as soil survey update work progresses and new needs
emerge. Examples of long-range plans are provided on the SharePoint site for the National Soil
Survey Center (NSSC) at
The long-range plan provides managers and partners an understanding of the MLRA soil survey
update needs. Some of the major information items useful in building the long-range plan are listed
below. Additional information may be included at the MLRA SSO leader’s discretion.
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-4
Information in this section provides the setting and organizational makeup of the program
participants. It should include the membership of the board of directors, management team, and
technical team and should identify the NCSS partners with interests in the MLRA SSO area.
(2) General nature of the survey area
This section generalizes Agriculture Handbook 296 information to provide a brief description of
the MLRA(s) within the soil survey area. It highlights the diversity of the area and the various
issues that affect the soil survey update. It should include information on the climate, vegetation,
geology, and geography of the MLRA.
(3) Geographic areas for project development
These areas can be of any geographic extent but are generally associated with geologic
formations, geomorphic surfaces, natural landforms, land resource units (LRU), common
resource areas (CRA), or soil catenas and serve as the basis from which projects will be
(4) Supporting information could include, but is not limited to:
a brief history or overview of correlation concepts used in the area,
historical map scales,
historical correlation documents,
lists of benchmark soils,
official soil series descriptions and their locations,
map units and their summed acreages,
components and their summed acreages,
lists of the ecological site descriptions (ESDs) or potential workload, and
resource maps (e.g., geology, climate, vegetation).
(5) Inventory and Assessment Report results
The inventory and assessment results are included in the long-range plan. The report (see Exhibit
610-3) is used to identify the potential project plans. It uses information that can be rapidly
processed to identify the issues. This information is also used to prioritize geographic areas and
(e) Long-Range Plan Publication
The long-range plan is written to provide current users with a justification for the need of the update
and to provide future information on decisions made about the MLRA SSO area. The long-range
plan is used by the MLRA SSO management team and technical team to develop priorities of
update needs to present to the board of directors for approval. The plan is published on the NSSC
SharePoint site “MLRA Long Range Plans” at
Refer to the NSSC SharePoint site for examples of long-range plans.
610.03 Update Strategies
(a) Definition. Strategies to update soil survey data, both attribute and spatial data, are designed to
implement effective actions and make efficient use of time and staff resources. Strategies may
address updating soils information in stages. Staging permits the update of attribute and spatial data
databases, individually or concurrently, or the integration of multiple projects to address all data
issues for a geographic area.
(b) Purpose. Strategies provide the tactical framework from which to initiate, conduct, and deliver
updated soils information to the users. Key tasks and milestones are identified for the strategies
used and should be addressed in the long-range plan.
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-5
(c) Update Strategies
(1) MLRA recorrelation of soil attribute data
This is a process of reconciling map unit names, map unit composition, and horizon depths and
properties to assist in developing a seamless soils coverage. The initial process focuses on
reducing the number of data mapunits for similarly named soil map units. The ultimate goal is an
agreed-upon set of data for a map unit that can be used across similar landscapes and landforms in
the MLRA, thus reducing the number of map units, components, and horizons within the database.
The continued process will populate all components and unify soil horizon depths into an MLRA
map unit concept. This process is the underpinning of MLRA correlation.
Recorrelation of soil attribute data on an MLRA basis:
(i) Draws heavily upon information obtained from the assessment of map units and
(ii) Projects are managed and documented in the NASIS Project Object;
(iii) Requires a thorough understanding of soils and landscapes of the area and requires
great skill in data analysis in NASIS;
(iv) Is mainly an office task that utilizes existing manuscripts and correlation documents
and relies on the experience and knowledge of technical team members;
(v) Begins with a review of the map units assigned to the MLRA. The NASIS database
is edited to assure proper MLRA assignment;
(vi) Ensures common phase term criteria are established for the MLRA. Map unit names
are then recorrelated to common MLRA phase criteria;
(vii) Ensures that data mapunits are reviewed based on unique map unit names.
Duplicate data mapunits can be reduced based on concurrence from the technical
(viii) Bridges the inventory and assessment and the field project development steps for the
(ix) Assists staff in identifying potential MLRA field projects.
(2) MLRA field projects
(i) These projects involve fieldwork necessary to collect additional data to correlate
map unit information. The result is a seamless coverage across political boundaries.
(ii) The long-range plan identifies update priorities within the MLRA SSO area that
accommodate all or most stakeholder and partner interests;
(iii) Field projects are managed and documented in the NASIS Project Object;
(iv) Project milestones are used to manage tasks and progress for each staff member.
(v) Multiple project plans are developed with time frames extending from weeks to
months to as much as 2 years. Projects expected to require more than 2 years should
be reevaluated and subdivided into smaller projects with shorter individual timelines
as appropriate; and
(vi) Projects are prioritized to address update activities that include field investigations
by the MLRA soil survey office staff.
(3) Survey boundary polygon joins
(i) Polygons lines are physically joined across political boundaries; and
(ii) Spatial datasets are examined along boundaries. Lines are adjusted and closed off
along natural landform breaks, or map units are correlated across the adjoining
(4) Recompiling to planimetric base
(i) Modern accurate digital base materials may not have been available during the
mapping and digitizing of traditional soil survey areas. Consequently, digitized soil
lines may not conform to landforms on planimeterically accurate imagery. Soil
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-6
delineations, symbols, and cultural features may be digitally edited or recompiled
and digitized when the base is not sufficiently accurate to meet the current needs;
(ii) Significant divergence between the image base and soil mapping can also arise from
changes in stream courses, mining activity, urban growth, etc. Recompiling or
digitizing to a new base imagery may be needed. Procedures for acquiring new base
materials are covered in Part 647 of this handbook.
(5) Special investigations and/or monitoring
(i) Special investigations clarify or augment data and soil survey information. Studies
may be undertaken to clarify issues about hydric soils, saturated soil layers,
saturated hydraulic conductivity, chemistry or mineralogy, climate, dynamic soil
properties, and other site-specific soil conditions; and
(ii) Special investigations should concentrate on benchmark soils, typical ecological
sites, or other important soils in the MLRA.
(6) Extensive revision
(i) Approval to conduct an extensive revision must be obtained from the Director of the
Soil Survey Division. The board of directors must concur with the request for
approval. The project evaluation is submitted as supporting documentation;
(ii) Extensive revision requires considerable fieldwork that usually involves a complete
remapping and documentation of map units within a given area. Dedicating
resources for this purpose detracts from other update activities;
(iii) Extensive revision is rarely, if ever, needed and available only if the project
evaluation documents indicate that remapping of the survey is justified;
(iv) If such a revision is deemed necessary, all MLRA update procedures will be
followed. The revision will be completed on the MLRA landform basis. The work
will be progressively correlated (see Part 609, Section 609.02 (a) of this handbook)
and the information published in annual or biannual time frames.
(v) A project soil survey memorandum of understanding (MOU) is not required but can
be prepared if it is deemed valuable. It must be compatible with the MLRA region-
(7) Supplemental mapping
(i) Supplemental mapping provides a more detailed soil map and information for areas
of limited extent. It is a result of more intensive onsite investigations. The
supplemental soil map is considered a separate soil map developed for specific
needs. It is maintained as improved documentation and attribute data of the Official
Soil Survey Information. Supplemental soil maps are not considered changes to the
Official Soil Survey Information. (See General Manual, Title 430, Section 402.5 F.)
(ii) Supplemental mapping is conducted as a Technical Soil Service activity for a
specific customer and managed as a site-specific investigation (see National
Technical Soil Services Handbook, Part 629). Results are captured in Pedon and
NASIS databases, as appropriate, serving as additional documentation to support
future update projects.
(iii) Supplemental soil mapping is not official soil survey data and is not uploaded to the
Soil Data Mart.
610.04 Project Plan
(a) Definition. The project plan details work activities necessary to improve soil survey information on
an MLRA-wide basis. It is developed from the prioritized issues approved by the MO board of
directors. The project plan is developed from issues identified in the long-range plan. All projects are
managed in the NASIS database. Clear goals and milestones are developed and progress is
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-7
(b) Purpose. The project plan identifies specific soil map units, geographic areas, soil catenas, or soil
properties to be investigated. It identifies and coordinates strategies to be employed, resources
required, investigations needed to address the issues, and quality control and quality assurance
activities to ensure that national and regional standards are maintained. Project plans may take on
various forms depending on the strategies employed, as discussed above. The objective of the project
is to produce seamless soils information that is accurate, complete, and consistent and that meets user
needs across the MLRA. Updated data from completed projects is published to the Soil Data
Warehouse, resulting in an improvement in the official soil survey information.
(c) Setting Project Priorities
(1) Projects are prioritized to balance local needs with national and State issues. The objective is to
weave together a variety of projects with various time frames so that the annual plan of
operations will efficiently utilize SSO staff, account for adverse or seasonal weather, and permit
annual reporting of progress. Prioritizing considers costs and benefits, ease or difficulty of
effort, value to users, acres impacted, staff capabilities, and equitable assistance to users.
Priority status for pending projects should be re-evaluated annually.
(2) Input from technical teams and cooperators is important in determining local priorities. The
local issues are merged with national and State priorities identified at work planning
conferences and addressed by the long-range plan. The long-range plan is used by the MLRA
SSO management team and technical team to develop priorities of update needs to present to
the board of directors for approval..
(3) The technical teams need to develop criteria for ranking projects. The scientific merit, external
merit, internal merit, financial/partnership inputs, and efficiency can be used to numerically
(4) Exhibit 610-5, Example of a Project Evaluation Ranking Procedure, can be used to create a
ranking and prioritizing formula for an MLRA SSO area. A ranking procedure that evaluates
the need and importance of individual projects, especially projects that require substantial
resources, aids in prioritization. MLRA SSOs should periodically review their ranking
procedures to assure that they are addressing important issues and are consistent across the MO
(d) Project Plan Development
Project plans are managed in the NASIS Project Object. The NASIS Project Object is populated
with the map units, staff, goals, and milestones necessary to complete a project. The project plan is
built from data entered in the Project Object. The managing of projects and the publication of
legends contribute to the overall goal of providing a seamless, high-quality soil survey geographic
database (SSURGO) for the Nation. Existing project plans with formatting, graphics, and maps can
be posted to a SharePoint site and the Web address entered into the NASIS Project table
“Description” field. Detailed process steps for managing project plans in NASIS are found in
Chapter 14 of the NASIS Users Guide.
(1) The preferred project plan approach focuses on specific groups of map units or landforms
within the MLRA or geographic area. The plan should coordinate soils information across
traditional soil survey area boundaries, following natural landforms. See Exhibit 610-6 for a
project plan checklist.
Project plans are designed so that all work is completed and the project is published within a 1-
year time frame (the period should not exceed 2 years). Projects expected to require more than
2 years should be reevaluated and subdivided into smaller projects with shorter individual
timelines. Any additional work needed outside the scope of the original project should be
developed into future projects.
Many projects require the recorrelation of existing map units and data mapunits, and some
projects require more extensive fieldwork (MLRA field projects). Combinations of multiple
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-8
projects involving either database work or field activities should allow for completion of
projects on an annual cycle.
New map unit(s) and data mapunit(s) are created for the project. Existing information remains
for historical purposes.
A project evaluation is conducted to identify the needs of the project. Exhibit 610-4 includes
items that are useful in the project evaluation. A summary of the project evaluation is
documented in the new project map unit(s) as instructed in Exhibit 610-4. The following items
should be addressed in the project evaluation process:
(i) Review the published manuscript map unit descriptions to identify the original map
unit concepts and composition.
(ii) Review the survey correlation records to identify final correlation issues.
(iii) Review ESD and other plant community information for completeness and
appropriateness for development of ESDs and State and Transition (S&T) Models.
(iv) Compile and analyze any special investigation and laboratory data collected for the
(v) Compile available historical transect and pedon descriptions, including the
manuscript taxonomic unit descriptions.
(vi) Review and evaluate the accuracy and consistency of that data in NASIS.
(vii) Create a map unit geographic distribution map to identify soil delineations and
(viii) Look for variability of soil delineations which may result from individual mapping
styles or differences in detail within and among soil survey areas and for the
consistent use of standard landform and miscellaneous surface features and ad hoc
features (i.e., “spot symbols”).
(ix) Evaluate the validity and regional consistency of map unit concepts.
(x) Analyze the soil-landscape model, assuring that the same map units occur in areas
with the same or similar geology, landforms, and parent materials.
(xi) Evaluate map unit polygons that fall outside of the predicted landform(s).
(xii) Examine line placement for conformance to landforms and crisp landscape
boundaries, such as for escarpments, upland and flood plain interfaces, and the
edges of water features.
(xiii) Examine line work for join issues between adjacent soil survey areas.
(xiv) Determine the extent and impacts of change in land use within the survey area.
(xv) Investigate catastrophic natural events or human activities that have altered the land
and, consequently, interpretive ratings.
(xvi) Review the kind and accuracy of the soil interpretations. Consider interpretive
results and the relation of data entries to criteria.
(xvii) Evaluate needs for new or additional interpretations not included in the survey.
(xviii) Evaluate needs for new interpretations such as dynamic soil properties or soil
(2) Project plan goals, progress, and milestones are identified and assigned to staff members.
(3) Staff collect sufficient documentation, historical and/or current, to fully populate all soil
properties, qualities, and interpretations for correlated components.
(4) Project findings are summarized and entered in the map unit history notes of the project map
unit. Documentation should address conclusions of the project, including decisions on the
replacement of correlated map units from traditional or non-MLRA soil survey areas.
(e) Investigation Plans
Soil survey investigations may be needed as part of project plans or may be designed as projects
themselves. Investigations require a research work plan, which is developed by the MLRA SSO
leader in consultation with the NSSC liaison, partner agencies, and/or others who will assist the
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-9
MLRA SSO leader by providing expert regional and national consultation. Investigation plans are
added in the Project Text table. The NSSC liaison is added as a Project Staff member. See Part 631
of this handbook for more information on soil survey investigations. Exhibit 631-3 provides a
research work plan checklist. Exhibit 631-4 is an example of a research work plan.
(f) Managing Spatial Data
Minor spatial line adjustment can be made during the normal course of work in a project. Extensive
line work revision is conducted as a separate project in future MLRA update work. Various GIS and
database software are available for coordination across multiple non-MLRA soil survey areas within
the MLRA. Extensive spatial revisions must be documented based on the detailed project
(g) Printing Project Plans
The NASIS database contains several NSCC Pangaea reports suitable for printing the project plans.
The reports are designated with the prefix “PROJECT –.”
“PROJECT –PLAN- Description by state” is a more thorough report providing the description,
milestones, and map units. (See Exhibits 610-7a, 610-7b, and 610-7c.)
“PROJECT –PLAN- MO Report (state, office)” is a summary report that focuses on the project
name, starting and completion dates, and the description. (See Exhibit 610-7d.)
610.05 Annual Plan of Operation (APO)
(a) Definition. Annual plans of operation (sometimes called business plans) are developed to guide and
provide specific focus to staff as projects are being implemented. They are developed each fiscal
year and identify project goals, milestones, objectives, timelines, and responsibilities to guide the
staff in planning day-to-day operations. See Part 608 of this handbook for more information.
(b) Purpose. Annual plans of operations are developed and implemented by state soil scientists and
MLRA SSOs. The APO incorporates the MLRA project plans. The list of needs and priorities may
change with time (according to Farm Bill priorities, deficiencies identified as other projects are being
performed, cost share opportunities, etc.), and flexibility should be maintained for possible
adjustments within this process.
(c) The APO should account for all projects and staff activities, including field mapping and
investigations, database maintenance, formal training, technical services, technical and management
team meetings, staff meetings, and personnel management and supervision.
(d) The APO is maintained annually and adjusted for the gains or losses in staffing at the MLRA SSO.
610.06 Certification of Soils Data
(a) Definition. Data certification is a three-step process for assuring that soils information and data are
accurate, complete, and meet NCSS standards and MOU objectives. The certification process begins
with a quality control review of new or changed information and data at the MLRA SSO. Upon
completing the quality control review, the data is subjected to a quality assurance review at the MO.
The final step in the process is the confirmation of the dataset by the State before the information is
exported to the Soil Data Warehouse.
(b) Purpose. The data certification process ensures that all significant changes to any previously
certified database are documented and recorded. By certifying and exporting the data (attribute and
spatial), the State is assuring that the information posted to the Soil Data Warehouse has passed
MLRA SSO quality control and MO quality assurance inspections, is suitable for use by the general
public, and meets National Cooperative Soil Survey standards. Progressive soil correlation, quality
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control, and quality assurance are essential and integral tools in certifying data. These processes are
used throughout the development of a soil survey project.
(c) Data Documentation
The certification of data is documented in NASIS. This documentation includes the completion of
quality control and quality assurance reviews of changes to any previously certified database.
Information on the reason for changes to a dataset and what was actually changed is documented in
export metadata. In addition, a level of certification is assigned to the data mapunit, legend, and
export package for a particular soil survey area and indicates the degree of confidence with which
they may be used. As new records are created, the previous records are retained in order to maintain
a certification history. The following NASIS tables are used for recording certification:
(1) The Legend Certification History table records information about the review and certification of
data in the Legend Object. Completion of quality control and quality assurance reviews are
recorded and a level of certification is assigned to the legend. This level indicates whether or not
the legend should be used and the degree of confidence with which it may be used.
(2) The Legend Export Certification History table records information about the export of all data
associated with a legend, including map units, soil property data, and interpretations. A level of
certification is assigned to the export package for a particular soil survey area. Information on the
reason for changes to a dataset and what was actually changed is documented in narrative text
notes (export metadata).
(3) The Data Mapunit Certification table records information about the review and certification of
data in the Data Mapunit Object. The completion of quality control and quality assurance
reviews is recorded, and a level of certification is assigned to the data mapunit. This level
indicates whether or not the data mapunit should be used and the degree of confidence with which
it may be used. This certification relates to the whole data mapunit, including all of its
components, horizons, etc.
610.07 Publication of Soils Data
(a) Upon completion of the quality assurance review, the MO works with the state soil scientist to
incorporate the project map units into the affected legend(s).
(b) The state soil scientist is responsible for populating the publication map unit symbol and map unit
acres for the new map unit(s). The published legends become new official soil survey information
as designated in General Manual GM_430_402_A_402.5.
(c) The state soil scientist records the completion of the quality control in the Legend Certification
(d) The MO staff records the completion of the quality assurance in the Legend Certification History
(e) The state soil scientist records the changes pertaining to the update of the legend at the time of the
export in the Legend Export Certification History table. This information is provided as metadata
explaining to the customers the changes made in the survey area.
(f) As frequently as needed to meet NRCS or cooperator needs, and at least annually, the state soil
scientist schedules exports to the Soil Data Warehouse for the updated soil survey area(s).
(g) The project is considered “completed” at the time the state soil scientist submits the soil survey
legends to the Soil Data Warehouse. The MLRA SSO staff reports mapping acre progress after
publication to the Soil Data Warehouse.
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-11
Exhibit 610-1—Resources for the Inventory and Assessment Report
(1) Soil Surveys in the MLRA SSO Area
a. Previously completed soil surveys
b. Soil surveys for conservation planning
c. Soil survey quality control data, including field notes and documentation
d. Soil survey photographs, block diagrams, and other figures
e. Soil survey quality assurance documents
f. Soil correlation memoranda and amendments
(2) Reference Maps (use in digital format if available)
a. Original field sheets
b. Major land resource area maps
c. General soil map
d. All available aerial photography and other remote-sensing coverage
e. USGS topographic and slope maps
f. Public lands survey
g. Maps and text on geology, geomorphology, geography, and water resources
h. Maps and text on vegetation and land use
i. Climatic maps and data
j. Flood plain maps
k. Maps and text on air resources
l. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wetland maps
(3) Reports and Inventories
a. Census reports
b. Crop-reporting service reports
c. Multi-spectral data
d. River basin reports
e. State, regional, or county land use plans and regulations
f. Resource Conservation and Development work plans
g. Public lands management reports and inventories
h. Bulletins and reports of State Agricultural Experiment Stations
i. National Food Security Act Manual and similar manuals
j. National resource inventory data
k. Field office technical guides
l. Soil laboratory data
(4) Scientific and Research Reports and Data
a. Theses and dissertations of college or university students
b. International committee (ICOM) reports, such as those for wet soils, Vertisols,
Aridisols, and Andisols
c. Articles in scientific and technical journals
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-12
d. Well logs from local or State agencies
e. NRCS drainage, irrigation, and erosion-control guides and maps
f. Percolation test results from local agencies
g. Highway soil test data
h. Climate data
i. Geomorphology studies
(5) Ecological Site Descriptions (ESD)
a. Existing ESDs
b. ESDs developed in other States/adjoining MLRAs
c. Ecoregion descriptions
d. Life zone descriptions
e. Other plant community inventories
(6) Forestry, Range, and Wildlife Inventories and Studies
a. Forest inventories
b. Range inventories
c. Studies and reports on wildlife habitat recreational sites
(7) Official Soil Series
a. Current version of official soil series descriptions (OSD)
b. Archived copies of previous versions of OSDs (if available)
a. National Soil Information System (NASIS) database
b. Ecological Site Inventory System (ESIS) database
c. U.S. General Soil Map (STATSGO2) database
d. Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) database
e. Soil characterization databases (NRCS and universities)
(9) Digital Data
a. Digital orthophotography
b. Digital raster graphic
c. Digital elevation model
d. Common land units
e. Common resource areas
f. Digital hydrography, transportation, etc.
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-13
Exhibit 610-2—Information Items for the Inventory and Assessment Report
The following outline presents the major information items to be considered in updating soil surveys for
an MLRA SSO area.
(1) A general review of existing soil surveys and an identification of deficiencies (needed as part of the
a. Review of legends
b. Examination of the geographic distribution of soils using GIS tools
c. Examination of spatial data for join problems
d. Collection of known information about the quality of existing soil surveys from resource soil
scientists, conservationists, other discipline specialists, and other knowledgeable sources
(2) Inventory and review of benchmark soils
a. Benchmark soil status and documentation
b. Current status and need for revision
c. Inventory of existing data
d. Identification of data gaps
(3) Review and update of official soil series descriptions (OSD)
b. Metric units of measure
c. Use of current taxonomy and horizon designations
d. Competing series
e. Distribution and extent
f. Diagnostic horizons and features
g. Other items needing attention
(4) Taxonomic classification of soil components
a. Application of latest edition of Keys to Soil Taxonomy
b. Series with obsolete classification
c. Typical pedon selection
(5) NASIS database review
a. Integrity and management of site and legend objects
b. Names and acres of unique map units within the MLRA SSO area
c. Number of data mapunits by unique component name
d. Common map unit phase criteria for the MLRA
e. Map units with incomplete or inconsistent data population
f. Map units of obsolete or unofficial miscellaneous areas
g. Component interpretation inconsistencies or errors
h. Areas impacted by land use changes
i. Consistent use of data population guides and calculations
j. Other items needing attention
(6) Spatial database review
a. Correction of symbol errors due to recompilation
b. Adjustment of line placement errors
c. Series mapped over too broad an extent
d. Geographic areas with spatial problems
e. Other items needing attention
(7) Review and update of ecological site descriptions (ESD)
a. Correlation of ESDs across MLRA/LRU and State lines
b. Creation/addition of needed ESDs to cover minor components and unique habitats
c. Completeness of existing ESD (including S&T Models)
d. Comparisons to check for redundant sites
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-14
Exhibit 610-3—Sample Inventory and Assessment Report for Long-Range Planning
Evaluation Notes for the Out-of-date Soil Survey of Clark County, Washington
Final Correlation Completed 11/1/1972
Total acres: 404544
Total map units: 138
Total components: 141
Initial field review date:
Final field review date:
Correlation date: 11/1/1972
Publications: Traditional Bound Manuscript: 11/15/1972
Publications: Web Publication: 11/15/1972
Land category: U.S. Forest Service: 1430
Land category: National Park Service: 165
Land category: Other Non-Federal Land: 391717
Land category: Other Federal Land: 8032
Land category: Census Water: 18292
Prime farmland acres: 156105
Statewide important farmland acres: 75356
No local important farmland designated
No unique farmland designated
Not prime farmland acres: 173083
Legend evaluation notes:
Attribute: Attribute Deficiencies
1. Classification and correlation:
WA011 was correlated between 1967 and 1970. Field work was performed between 1950 and 1960 and the manuscript
was issued in 1972. All work was completed prior to the release of the first edition of Soil Taxonomy. Much of the
taxonomy in NASIS does not meet current standards, nor does it match with OSD classifications. Examples of
classification issues include:
a. Vitrandic subgroups are used and there is need to evaluate the use of vitrandic subgroups in MLRA 2.
b. One soil in the original WA011 manuscript was identified as frigid (Larchmount). Joins with adjacent surveys
have added 2 additional frigid soils (Dougan and Swift). Further investigation is needed regarding temperature
and moisture regime distribution in MLRAs 2 and 3 in Clark County as elevation reaches 3,000 feet.
c. Soils such as Washougal were re-classified as various flavors of Andisols and Andic intergrades. Washougal was
reclassified as a Melanoxerands after the final correlation of the survey. The NASIS database shows a maximum of
3 percent organic matter in the top 22 centimeters, with decreasing amounts with depth. That quantity falls well
below the requirement for organic carbon content in Soil Taxonomy (6 percent organic carbon; weighted average).
Quantities of organic matter need to be assessed in the database.
d. Taxonomy does not match with adjacent soil survey areas and the edition of Keys to Taxonomy used is not
identified in the NASIS database.
e. Upon review of the final correlation document, it was discovered that decisions were made to correlate some
soils (such as the tentative series Towle that was correlated to the McBee coarse variant) because they were of
limited extent. Limited extent seems to range from 500 to about 1,700 acres, however some components in the
manuscript total less than 1,000 acres. Most comments mention similar range in characteristics as the reason for
the correlation to an existing series, however, some were unique enough to be called variants. Acreage was used
as a correlation tool and further evaluation of all components is required.
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-15
WA011 predates SSSD and NASIS. Some updates to the mapunits occurred prior to NASIS. Examples of mapunit issues
a. In the manuscript, minor components, including limiting minor components, are identified by a soil property
(e.g., areas of silty-clay loam surface textures) or named component. Issues with the Hesson map units were
documented in 1974 and the solution was to use inclusions. One map unit in the manuscript (7 Hesson
consociations in total) mentions slightly depressional or nearly level areas. No minor components are identified
b. Miscellaneous Land Types (MLT), such as Rock land and Rough broken land, are used. Great group and subgroup
classifications, with horizon data, were added to some MLTs; however, component names such as Rough broken land
and Tidal marsh are retained in NASIS and are identified as a taxon above family.
c. Variants are used (examples include but are not limited to):
McBee, Fine-silty, mixed, mesic Cumulic Ultic Haploxerolls
McBee variant, Coarse-loamy, mixed, mesic Aquic Haploxerolls
Minniece, Fine, mixed, mesic Typic Umbraqualfs
Minniece variant, Clayey over loamy-skeletal, mixed, mesic Aquandic Umbraqualfs
d. Numerical slope ranges were not provided in the original WA011 manuscript for MLTs such as Rock Land and Rough
e. Use of consociations (in relation to limiting minor components) in MLRAs 2 and 3 needs to be evaluated due to
the extreme variability in parent material and landscape position.
f. Slope ranges are assigned in an arbitrary fashion (examples are 0 to 3, 3 to 8, and 8 to 15).
g. Hydric minor components are not included in NASIS. Few hydric minor components are identified in the WA011
manuscript, typically with a reference to drainage only. Due to expanding development and proximity to the
Vancouver/Portland area, an urgent need exists to properly identify hydric components in Clark County.
Due to its age, WA011 has migrated from hardcopy to SSSD to NASIS. Examples of issues with components include:
a. H layers are used. No Oi layers are identified in mineral components, but are identified in the hard copy
b. Histosols, such as Semiahmoo, have water table data in the Component Month section including water table
depths at the surface but have no ponding data. Further water table depths, ponding, and flooding investigation
is required on all floodplain soils.
c. Component Pedons are not assigned in NASIS.
d. Parent material needs correlation (e.g., colluvium and alluvium from igneous rock, colluvium and residuum from
basalt, colluvium and residuum from igneous rock, colluvium derived from basalt, volcanic ash, alluvium, and/or
glacial drift are all included in Parent Material Group Name table).
e. In NASIS, some components have multiple drainage classes assigned (e.g., Sauvie: moderately well and somewhat
poorly; Mossyrock: well and moderately well; McBee: moderately well and somewhat poorly; Lauren: somewhat
excessively and moderately well). Some of these components have no water table depths assigned in the Component
Month table. Given the relatively recent shift in methods to determine water tables from soil features, there is
an urgent need to evaluate water table data in all areas of WA011.
f. In NASIS, bedrock layer depths in the Component Horizon table for soils such as Dougan do not match the depth
identified in the Component Restriction table.
g. In NASIS, some components do not have frost free day or elevation populated.
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-16
h. Mean annual precipitation needs review as some components have a no range listed (e.g., Hockinson: 45
in/year), the range is not typical for the area (e.g., Minniece: 8 12; in/year; Yalelake 115 125 in/year), or
the range is too broad (e.g., Tisch 20 60).
4. Spatial Deficiencies:
WA011 predates any GIS and color photography. The base imagery used was flown prior to 1950 and stereoscopes
were used at this time. USGS topographic maps were updated in the 1980s. Soil lines were hand-compiled and these
lines were in turn hand digitized or scanned. These multiple iterations of line placement may have skewed the
original intent of their placement. Issues with the spatial data include:
a. Soil lines in some areas are outside the acceptable margin of error for shoreline coincidence. Soil lines in
many cases do not follow natural slope breaks and landforms. Mapunit slope ranges do not fit DEM derived slopes
and are arbitrarily assigned.
b. Polygon density needs to be evaluated. There are over 550 polygons 1 acre or less in size, and two polygons
greater than 9,000 acres in size (Lauren gravelly loam, 0 to 8 percent slopes; Olympic stony clay loam, 30 to 60
percent slopes). This large disparity in polygon size, in an area that is facing tremendous development pressure
is in urgent need of detailed evaluation.
c. WA011 is published at 1:20,000. The sizes of the delineations for an Order 2 survey look questionable and
inconsistent, considering most of the map units are consociations.
e. Soil properties do not join appropriately with adjacent survey areas (e.g., pH, bulk density, particle size)
even in areas in which series match. Soil lines do not match with adjacent survey areas.
5. Interpretative Deficiencies:
Soil interpretations do not appropriately join with
adjacent surveys. This can be attributed to the age of the
survey and adjoining surveys, soil series not matching across boundaries, improvements to the calculation of soil
data, changes in criteria for assigning ratings, changes in identification of water table features, and the
migration of soil series concepts (examples are drainage and depth) as they are used in other areas. Land use,
regulations, and resource management have evolved in the time since WA011 was published. Original concepts of map
units do not match the current land use and thus, interpretations in many cases do not appropriately apply to the
modern demands of the soil survey. Issues with soil interpretations include:
a. Assignment of Land Capability Class (LCC) in Washington State has gone through a number of changes in the time
WA011 was published. The official LCCs do not meet the current criteria. In earlier versions, water table depths
only during the growing season affected LCC. This has shifted with the current method, in which water table now
affects LCC at any time of year. For more information, see MO-1 Technical Note 40 (Revision 1); WA NASIS Guide 2
Criteria for Placing Washington Soils into Capability Classes.
b. Hydric rating is not consistent. Soils such as Washougal are mapped in active floodplains as well as on
terraces elevated far above active flooding. Separation of these areas is needed. Some components are assigned
multiple drainage classes, Hydric rating needs to be evaluated in combination with map unit component
composition, water table depths, and flooding, and is part of a broader issue with scale of mapping and
widespread use of consociations.
c. Soil series are delineated across traditional xeric/udic breaks. Traditionally, soil moisture has been
arbitrarily assigned based on amounts of precipitation and vegetation. This has led to the development of similar
series with overlapping soil moisture concepts. Interpretations derived utilizing soil moisture, such as Forage
Suitability Groups and Prime Farmland can be affected. Many of the soils in WA011 are mapped in a variety of
microclimates. Soil moisture evaluation is needed to establish consistency. For example, precipitation ranges
identified on the Washougal OSD range from 60 to 90 inches of precipitation annually and occur in MLRA 2. In
NASIS, some WA011 components, such as Minniece silty clay loam 0 to 3 percent slopes, annual precipitation ranges
down to 8 inches per year. Olympic soils range from 40 to 70 inches of precipitation annually.
d. WA011 predates the concept of Ecological Site Descriptions (ESD) which is a national priority.
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-17
Exhibit 610-4—Sample Project Evaluation Worksheet
The information gathered on this worksheet should be used for the evaluation of each map unit, the evaluation
of the taxa used in the map unit name, and the evaluation of individual delineations of the map unit. This
information should be collected and analyzed and the resulting information entered into the NASIS database
(see Part 638 of this handbook) in the Legend Text or the Mapunit Text table, as appropriate, under the
appropriate map unit(s). All notes entered into the Legend Text or the Mapunit Text table should be
populated with Kind set to “miscellaneous notes,” Category set to “evaluation notes,” and Subcategory set to
“spatial,” “attribute,” or “interpretation.” The national NASIS report named “MLRA - Evaluation notes for
long range planning” is used to create the evaluation report.
Part A. Evaluation of the survey area
Summarize the information from the non-MLRA survey areas occurring within the update project:
How were the soil maps digitized?
What is the new base map for the update?
What is the new map scale?
What additional soil data have users requested?
What additional interpretations have users requested?
Briefly describe the investigative and laboratory support needed to provide the new data and interpretations.
Briefly describe how this survey will be improved by the update.
Briefly describe any publication plans in addition to the Web Soil Survey.
Part B. Evaluation of the map unit (subcategory “attribute”)
Give the probable map unit name if recorrelated.
Do map unit names correspond with current NCSS and editorial standards?
Is the unit adequately described? If not, what is inadequate?
Does the map unit design meet current user needs within the MLRA?
Are limiting dissimilar soils named as minor map unit components in NASIS?
Is the amount and type of minor components consistent with NSSH guidelines?
What were the major interpretive uses of the map unit at the time it was correlated?
What is the major interpretive use of the map unit at the time of evaluation?
Are soil properties consistent with the needs of the current land use?
Are soil property entries in the NASIS database complete?
Part C. Evaluation of the map unit components used to name the map unit (subcategory “attribute”)
Is the proper component kind value entered for the component?
Does the component name and/or taxonomic classification need to be updated? If so, what is the proposed new
name or taxonomic classification?
Do miscellaneous area names correspond to the approved list of miscellaneous areas?
Are component names properly entered with only the component name and in title case (e.g., Jonus)?
Are phase criteria properly entered in the local phase column?
Can the soil component be classified as presently described? If no, why not?
Does the depth of the typifying pedon meet current needs?
Does the series (taxa), as described, overlap with other series (taxa)? If yes, how?
Does the typical pedon represent the map unit component?
Is there lab data for the series (taxa)? If yes, how many locations were tested and is the data adequate?
Do the component properties concur with characterization data?
Is the representative pedon within the RIC of the OSD? If not, why?
Is the series consistent with parent material?
Is the series consistent with geomorphic landform?
Is the series consistent with geographic setting and the MLRA?
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-18
Part D. Evaluation of the map unit delineations (subcategory “spatial”)
Do soil lines fit major landform breaks?
Do lines correctly separate map units in the soil landform?
Is there a need to create new map units to delineate dissimilar soils?
Are dissimilar soils consistent with the map unit description?
Is the intensity of mapping suitable for the land use?
Does the series concept, as correlated, fit the map unit concept?
How was the mapping evaluated?
Are there user comments?
What are the number of:
field notes ________
areas that need remapping ________
areas that need road checking for line placement ________
Is there an exact join with surrounding surveys?
Is soil mapping consistently applied to landscapes across the major land resource area?
Does the use of features and symbols reflect current definitions and follow standards on the Feature and Symbol
Legend for Soil Survey, NRCS-SOI-37A?
Will this map unit require extensive revision (remapping)?
Part E. Evaluation of map unit interpretations (subcategory “interpretation”)
Address the interpretation issues within the survey manuscript.
Identify interpretation join issues of similar map units across survey boundaries.
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-19
Exhibit 610-5—Example of a Project Evaluation Ranking Procedure
Rank each factor from 1 to 3, with 1 being low and 3 being high. Determine the overall priority ranking from
the key at the end.
A. Scientific Merit. How important is the project for soil science and the soil resource inventory? Examples:
updating or investigating taxonomic classifications, revising series concepts, updating or correcting pedon
descriptions, sampling to fill data voids for series.
1 Little or no scientific merit
2 Some merit; minor changes to benchmark soils; changes to soils of small extent, etc.
3 High merit; major advances in scientific knowledge about benchmark soils
B. Agency Merit. How important is the project for programs of NRCS and their partners? Included are all the
Farm Bill programs, conservation planning, State cost-share, etc. Examples: K factors (affecting HEL and
CRP), hydric soils (wetlands), prime farmland issues, suitability groups.
1 Little or no scientific merit
2 Minor or incidental effects on some properties or areas of concern; affects one or more
programs in a minor way
3 Significant revision to properties of benchmark soils used in programs or areas of significant
concern to conservation efforts; affects several programs or has a major impact on one or
C. External Merit. How important is the project for external customers, either government or private?
1 Little or no interest from external customers
2 Some effect on soil survey users or agencies; one user group impacted
3 Major impact on land use planning, interpretations, or agency programs or lands; more than
one user group impacted
D. Financial/Partnership Inputs. Are there inputs from other sources or partners, such as funding, staffing,
equipment, or technical support?
1 Little or no partnership involvement
2 Some commitment of staff time, equipment, and/or technical support; one partner involved
3 Major commitment of staff time and equipment and/or financial support; more than one
partner involved; strong support or guidance needed from NRCS or partner administration
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-20
E. Synergy. Does the project serve or support another project or proposal?
1 Not at all
2 Some advantage to another project
3 Closely related to another project; significantly improves the efficiency of both projects
F. Deficiencies in County Soil Surveys. Does the project address deficiencies identified in the inventory and
assessment and/or digital flags?
1 No deficiencies previously noted; affects newer surveys with five-digit numbers
2 Minor deficiencies are addressed; affects published surveys with mnemonic symbols (e.g.,
3 Significant deficiencies in the existing soil surveys are addressed; affects “out-of-date”
G. Efficiency. How much “bang for the buck” is in this project? Evaluate, in part, on the ratio of acreage
affected to time required to complete.
1 Low; lots of work for a few acres (e.g., < 300 acres / person-day, few and minor NASIS
changes per person-day)
2 Moderate; reasonable return for the labor (e.g., 300 to 1000 acres / person-day, numerous
NASIS changes per person-day, etc.)
3 High; big changes with little effort (e.g., >1000 acres / person-day, major NASIS revisions
per person-day, etc.)
1) If G = 3 and D = 3 and two or more of A or B or C or F = 3 or if score = 3 on three of A, B, C, or F, then
Priority = High
2) If D = 1 and G = 1 and none = 3 and composite score < 11, then Priority = Low
3) All other, Priority = Medium
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-21
Exhibit 610-6—Project Plan Checklist
The Project Plan is a NASIS report that presents the data entered into the NASIS Project Object. For projects
yet approved, the Project table data, consisting of the Project name, Project Description, Project Approval,
MLRA Soil Survey Office, and State Responsible, are the only fields necessary to populate. Once approved,
the entire Project Object is populated. This exhibit provides a checklist of NASIS populated fields:
Project name: The project name begins with the MLRA followed by a space, a dash, and another space (e.g.,
MLRA 133B – Cahaba fine sandy loam, 1 to 3 percent slopes).
Project Description: This free form text field is used to document the project purpose. The description
should be considered an “executive summary” containing the “who, what, when, why, and how” information
on the project. Items that should be considered when writing are:
A statement focused on the problem to be answered by the project completion
An emphasis on database population, correlation, and documentation
A deliverable product
Justification and Significance
Based on inventory and assessment and priorities from the long-range plan
Address the needs of the majority of users
How the project improves the current product, such as attribute data, spatial data, and/or soil
Emphasize soil-landscape relationships
Assess the effect on benchmark and associated soils
Determine acreage and extent
Diagrams and illustrations that help define the project area can be used as supplements as
Setting, such as climate, geology, landscapes, land use, dominant vegetation, and soils; may
also include water and additional biological, mineral, or other resources
Soil series and their classification and map unit phases
Identify issues from the review of historical and existing data by NCSS members
Benefit(s) to the soil survey program include the following examples (the list is not exclusive):
Scientific: refinement of series concept or establishment of new series; fills data voids in
attributes or documentation; update taxonomic classifications; consistent geographical
distribution of map units; map units correctly follow natural landforms and imagery
External: better interpretations to meet user needs; uses support from partners or other
Internal: complete population of tabular data used in Farm Bill programs, conservation
planning, and other agency or cooperator needs
Synergy: wider application of data to support other projects or in multiple soil survey areas
Efficiency: improve the ratio of acreage affected to time required to complete project
Correction of deficiencies: items identified in the inventory and assessment have been
addressed; joins are seamless
Project Approval: The “Approved?” column is checked if approved and unchecked if not approved.
MLRA Soil Survey Office: This column is used to assign the project to a specific office.
State Responsible: Choose the State in which the MLRA soil survey office is located.
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-22
Project Mapunit table: Identify the correlated map units which will be investigated within the project.
Include the provisional map unit(s) that will be created during the project. All editing is completed on the
new map unit(s); original map units remain untouched.
Project Staff table: Identify all personnel whose time and/or resources will be required to complete the
project. Include any MLRA Regional Office (MO) staff, the NSSC liaison, state soil scientists, vegetation
Project Mapping Goal table: Populate the acre mapping goal for the project. Typically, this figure is the
sum of all correlated map unit acres.
Project Land Category Breakdown table: Populate the acre assignment to the various land categories.
Project Milestone table: Identify the tasks and their scheduled start and completion dates. This table is used
to manage the time table for the project.
Project Text table: Include any additional project plans or investigation plans.
Project Data Need table: Include assistance from NSSC staff, lab data, equipment, materials and supplies,
technology, training, and other staff or administrative support.
1. Populate the Project table.
2. Load the Mapunit table with those map units associated with the project.
3. In the Mapunit table, create the new MLRA map unit designated as the project’s map unit and set the
status to “Provisional.” Populate the Mapunit History table to document the creation of the new map unit.
4. Copy the correlation records from the historical map units and paste into the correlation table for the
project’s map unit. These correlation records should be set as “Not Representative.” This links the
historical map units to the new map unit.
5. Copy the map units from the Mapunit table and paste them into the Project Mapunit table.
6. Create a new data mapunit (DMU) designated as the project’s DMU and link the project’s map unit. This
can be a copy-and-paste of an existing DMU deemed the most representative. Editing is only completed
in the new DMU; historical DMUs remain untouched.
7. Upon completion of the project, the MLRA SSO leader certifies that the quality control is completed by
populating the DMU Certification History table. Notes are entered into this table to explain the project
8. The project is sent to the MO, where a soil data quality specialist (SDQS) completes the quality assurance
spatial and attribute review and populates the DMU Certification History table certifying the quality.
9. The Mapunit History table is updated and populated to reflect the project findings.
10. The historical map units are modified to “additional” status.
11. The project’s map unit(s) is modified to “correlated” status.
12. The project’s map unit is linked to the affected survey legends through the Legend Mapunit table.
13. The state soil scientist certifies that the quality control is completed for the legends by populating the
Legend Certification History table.
14. The SDQS certifies that the quality assurance is completed for the legends by populating the Legend
Certification History table.
15. The state soil scientist populates the new map unit symbol and map unit acres in Legend Mapunit table.
16. The state soil scientist populates the Legend Export Certification History table, providing customers with
metadata explaining why the legend was re-exported.
17. The state soil scientist submits all spatial and tabular data associated with the completed project to the
Soil Data Warehouse. The project is completed, and progress acres are reported.
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-23
Exhibit 610-7a—Project Plan Examples
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Page 1
NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE 08/24/2011
MLRA - Project Mapunit Report
MLRA 106 - Kennebec KSAT and DMU Project
Project Acres: 296061
Project Approved? : No
The collection of Ksat data from 10 sites with MLRA 106 to compare and determine the field versus estimated data
currently used in NASIS. Also the correlation of the 7050 Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded data map units
within MLRA 106 to one dmu.
Kohake, David; Evans, Bruce; Latta, Casey
| Milestone | Scheduled | Start Date | Scheduled | Completion |
| | Start Date | |Completion Date| Date |
| | | | | |
|Soil business | | | | |
|Project approval date |4/1/2009 |4/1/2009 |4/6/2009 |4/6/2009 |
|Soil descriptions |4/7/2009 |4/7/2009 |8/19/2010 |8/19/2010 |
|QC of tabular data, initial or updates |4/7/2009 |10/15/2009 |9/30/2009 |8/20/2010 |
|Logistical planning |4/7/2009 |4/27/2010 |11/15/2009 |9/30/2009 |
|QA of tabular data, initial or updates |10/15/2009 | |9/30/2010 |5/1/2010 |
|Gather field documentation |4/7/2010 | |5/1/2010 | |
|Edit tabular data |4/27/2010 | | | |
|Summarize field documentation |4/27/2010 | | | |
| | | |
| Survey area | Map Unit Name | Map Unit |
| and Map Symbol| | Acres |
| | | |
| KS149: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | 33,296|
| KS139: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | 40,442|
| KS085: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | 24,351|
| KS005: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | 9|
| KS197: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | 503|
| NE131: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| NE147: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | 6,784|
| NE159: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | 3,954|
| KS087: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | 29,936|
| KS103: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | 161|
| 5-7: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Provisional | |
| KS043: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | 72|
| KS177: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| KS045: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| KS131: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| KS209: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| KS201: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| KS117: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| NE025: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| KS013: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| NE109: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| NE133: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| NE067: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| KS161: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
| KS091: 7050 |Kennebec silt loam, occasionally flooded: Correlated | |
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-24
Exhibit 610-7b—Project Plan Examples
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Page 1
NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE 08/24/2011
MLRA - Project Mapunit Report
MLRA 131A - Commerce-Dundee
Project Acres: 76799
Project Approved? : Not Designated
Preliminary work indicated that there are a significant number of mapping units which may not be named correctly
because they do not fit current criteria for soil taxonomy and series ranges of characteristics and/or do not meet
rules for map unit composition. Soils that are misnamed may also have incorrect taxonomic classification and
associated interpretations. Work on the project has been organized to concentrate on a small group of soils across
the MLRA associated with a specific landform or similar landscape position to insure uniformity.
The Yazoo Basin of the Mississippi alluvial valley is one of the largest basins, covering 7,600 sq mi area. Most of
the Yazoo Basin area is comprised of deposits from the Holocene age Mississippi meander belts and backswamp
environments. According to Sauciers map, Deer Creek is a distributaries stream within the recent Stage 1 Mississippi
meander belt. Further east of Deer Creek, the Leland Scarp, a subtle, but distinguishing, geomorphologic feature
exists. East of this subtle rise in elevation, Sauciers maps indicate Wisconsin age valley-train and stage 3 and
stage 4 Mississippi meander belts. The 1958 Washington County soil survey states that the Dundee soils occur on old
natural levees along old streams and bayous. The OSD report states that Dundee soils are also found on low terraces
along former channels of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
Preliminary investigation showed that soils mapped as Dundee in the Deer Creek Basin differed from the soils mapped as
Dundee east of the Leland Scarp, in age and development. There is a conflict between the actual soils on the landform
in the Deer Creek Basin and what is represented in the published manuscript and in the National Soil Information
The objective of the Deer Creek Project is to identify and separate the areas mapped as the Dundee series in the
Washington and Bolivar County soil surveys, since these soils are mapped in one region of the county as alfisols, and
as inceptisols in another region.
Stout Evans, Rachel; Terry, Willie; Mersiovsky, Edgar; Johnson, Delaney
| Milestone | Scheduled | Start Date | Scheduled | Completion |
| | Start Date | |Completion Date| Date |
| | | | | |
|Project approval date | | | | |
|Transects |10/1/2010 |9/20/2010 |1/15/2011 | |
|Gather field documentation |10/1/2010 | |2/15/2011 | |
|Soil descriptions |10/1/2010 | |5/1/2011 | |
|Summarize field documentation |1/15/2011 | |5/30/2011 | |
|QA of spatial data, initial or updates |2/1/2011 | |7/30/2011 | |
|QA of tabular data, initial or updates |2/1/2011 | | | |
|QC of tabular data, initial or updates |5/1/2011 | | | |
|QC of spatial data, initial or updates |5/1/2011 | | | |
|Edit spatial data |5/30/2011 | | | |
|Edit tabular data |5/30/2011 | | | |
| | | |
| Survey area | Map Unit Name | Map Unit |
| and Map Symbol| | Acres |
| | | |
| MS011: Cc |Commerce silt loam: Correlated | 8,855|
| MS011: Cd |Commerce silty clay: Correlated | 1,716|
| MS011: Ce |Commerce silty clay loam: Correlated | 6,341|
| : |Commerce: Provisional | |
| : |Dundee: Provisional | |
| MS011: Dk |Dundee silt loam, 3 to 7 percent slopes: Correlated | 1,189|
| MS011: Dh |Dundee silt loam,0 to 3 percent slopes: Correlated | 12,141|
| MS011: Dn |Dundee silty clay loam, 0 to 3 percent slopes: Correlated | 23,953|
| MS011: Do |Dundee silty clay loam, 3 to 7 percent slopes: Correlated | 1,594|
| MS011: Dp |Dundee silty clay loam, 7 to 10 percent slopes: Correlated | 73|
| MS011: Dm |Dundee silty clay, 0 to 3 percent slopes: Correlated | 7,156|
| MS011: Dr |Dundee very fine sandy loam, 0 to 3 percent slopes: Correlated | 13,149|
| MS011: Ds |Dundee very fine sandy loam, 3 to 7 percent slopes: Correlated | 632|
| | | |
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-25
Exhibit 610-7c—Project Plan Examples
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Page 1
NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE 08/24/2011
MLRA - Project Mapunit Report
MLRA 42 - Update of Quaternary Basaltic and Andesitic Lava Flows
Project Acres: 242354
Project Approved? : Yes
The scope of this project is to update soil map units associated with Quaternary and Tertiary Basaltic and Andesitic
Lava Flows. These lava flow map units occur in 10 counties within MLRA 42 (8-6). This project will focus on updating
the soils mapped on these basaltic parent material and lava flow landforms in Grant, Hidalgo, Luna and Dona Ana
counties. This effort will coordinate the soil map units, database and interpretations between soil survey areas and
across MLRA 42 (8-6). This will be accomplished by gathering all current documentation, collecting additional
documentation as needed and sampling map unit components for characterization data. All soil survey products submitted
for quality assurance review and certification will undergo quality control inspection prior to submission.
Progressive soil correlation will be conducted during the course of all soil survey activities. Official Soil Series
Descriptions drafted or revised by the MLRA-SSO will meet NCSS standards. All changes to map unit names and legends,
and the reasons for the changes, will be recorded in the National Soil Information System (NASIS). The update in the
project areas will produce consistency between lava flow map units scattered over a wide area of MLRA 42.
The quaternary basaltic and andesitic lava flow map units within Grant, Hidalgo, Luna and Dona Ana counties are all
shallow to basalt bedrock with overlying siliceous caps ranging from clayey to sandy. The landforms range from nearly
level lava flows to steep cinder cones with most of the acreages for this project being within Dona Ana County in the
Portrillo Basalt Field. The older, less steep cones were mapped to series, while the steeper, younger cinder cones
were mapped to the subgroup level. The steeper map unit RT is not included with this year’s project, however, this unit
was mapped in conjunction with the less steep Dona Ana map units. Since the basalt fields are difficult to traverse,
data will be collected from the RT unit when we document the map units that are part of this year’s project.
These units are dominantly used for wildlife and rangeland although some recreation occurs in some areas. Interpretations
between the join problem areas are generally consistent although some interpretations vary between join units in the
four counties. There are map unit join problems of significant acreages between Luna and Dona Ana county map units and
lesser acreages join problems between Grant and Hidalgo counties. Map units in Dona Ana County with slopes from 3 to 25
percent are joining units in Luna County with slopes ranging from 0 to 10 percent. The Luna survey also did not recognize
the sandier caps overlying basalt bedrock that was recognized in the Dona Ana Survey.
A significant reason for this project is to differentiate the age of the lava flows. Past observations have shown that
the older the lava flow, the more developed the soils are. The Akela OSD from the Portrillo Basalt Field describes
significant accumulations of calcium carbonate on rock fragments that could possible change the classification from a
Lithic Torriorthent to a Lithic Haplocalcid. These carbonate accumulations were observed at the Armendaris Lava Field,
while minimal carbonate accumulations were observed at the younger Carrizozo lava flow.
Three Official Soil Series were established during the Dona Ana Survey, Akela, Minlith and Aftaden. No official
National Soil Survey Laboratory was collected from these series. The chemical and physical data collected was only
from the local soil survey laboratory. The above soil series will be thoroughly analyzed by the local soil survey
laboratory and NSSL during this project.
Cates, Greg; Michaud, Gordon; Riggs, Justin C.; Eldridge, Austin
| Milestone | Scheduled | Start Date | Scheduled | Completion |
| | Start Date | |Completion Date| Date |
| | | | | |
|Project NSSL Investigation Plan | | | | |
|Project approval date |7/26/2011 | |7/26/2011 | |
|Complete detailed evaluation |10/1/2011 | |11/1/2011 | |
|Logistical planning |10/1/2011 | |5/1/2012 | |
|Edit tabular data |11/1/2011 | |6/1/2012 | |
|Gather field documentation |11/1/2011 | |8/1/2012 | |
|Summarize field documentation |11/1/2011 | |9/30/2012 | |
|Edit spatial data |11/1/2011 | |10/1/2012 | |
|QC of interpretation data, initial or updates|2/1/2012 | | | |
|QC of spatial data, initial or updates |2/1/2012 | | | |
|QC of tabular data, initial or updates |2/1/2012 | | | |
|QA of interpretation data, initial or updates|4/1/2012 | | | |
|QA of spatial data, initial or updates |4/1/2012 | | | |
|QA of tabular data, initial or updates |4/1/2012 | | | |
|Complete correlation activities |8/1/2012 | | | |
|Project completed date |9/30/2012 | | | |
| | | |
| Survey area | Map Unit Name | Map Unit |
| and Map Symbol| | Acres |
| | | |
| NM690: AF |Aftaden-Rock outcrop association: Correlated | 41,951|
| NM029: AG |Akela very gravelly loam, 0 to 10 percent slopes: Correlated | 12,721|
| NM029: AK |Akela very gravelly loam, 10 to 25 percent slopes: Correlated | 6,981|
| NM690: AL |Akela-Rock outcrop complex: Correlated | 87,824|
| NM029: GR |Graham cobbly clay loam, 10 to 25 percent slopes: Correlated | 6,435|
| NM023: Gr |Graham extremely rocky clay loam, 0 to 3 percent slopes: Correlated | 8,754|
| NM023: GT |Graham extremely rocky clay loam, 10 to 45 percent slopes: Correlated | 17,840|
| NM023: GO |Graham rocky clay loam, 1 to 9 percent slopes: Correlated | 13,151|
| NM690: MR |Minlith-Rock outcrop association: Correlated | 27,014|
| NM662: 51 |Rock outcrop-Graham association, 5 to 25 percent slopes: Correlated | 19,683|
| | | |
Part 610 - Updating Soil Surveys 610-26
Exhibit 610-7d—Project Plan Examples
MLRA - All Projects by MLRA Soil Survey Office (MSSO) Report
State MSSO Approved? Project Name Goaled Completion Project Description
wv 13-2: MLRA 124 - KY605 132,708 2011 This project is a continuation of the Updating Pre-taxonomy
& KY043 Latham- surveys need identified by Office 13-2 in 2007. The project
Shelocta began with delineating ridges in Boyd and Greenup
Counties. Once the MLRA 124 - KY605 Minesoil Update
Project has finished, we will turn our attention to the issue of
reviewing the mapping of the side slopes.
wv 13-2: MLRA 126 - OH 25,534 2010 This project was prompted by OH Work Planning
Minesoils Conference. The main concern was the mapping in the
northern part of the MLRA (generally mapped as
miscellaneous units), but it was decided that our office
should review mine soil mapping in our area to ensure
mapping was current.
wv 13-3: MLRA 127 - 70,934 2010 This project focuses on recorrelation and enhancement of
Correlation of the NASIS attribute data for all phases of consociations of the
Clifftop series in the Gilpin series which are formed in residuum weathered from
southern extent of Pottsville Group bedrocks. The Clifftop series was
MLRA 127 established by correlation in Fayette Co., WV in 2009 and
replaced the Gilpin series in that soil survey legend (WV705).
This project expands the concept of the Clifftop series
throughout the southern extent of MLRA 127.
wv 13-3: MLRA 127 - Data 28,982 2010 The purpose of this project is to support the development of
collection in the a Red Spruce Ecological Site Description (ESD), which is a
Upper Greenbrier Soil Survey Division priority. The project will involve
North watershed validating soil map unit composition and classifying soils on
(ESD) steep and very steep backslopes occurring in the Chemung
and Hampshire Geologic Formations in the upper Greenbrier
North watershed. Soil data will be collected to support
development of the Red Spruce ESD and to quantify the
depth of organic soil layers and verify the presence of soils
with folistic epipedons.
wv 13-3: MLRA 127 - 15,684 2010 This project focuses on recorrelation and enhancement of
Recorrelation of NASIS attribute data for map units of Berks, moist phase,
Berks, moist phase SSA WV063 (Randolph County, WV, main part) and to a
map units in frigid lesser extent map units of Gilpin in SSA WV602 (Tucker
areas County and part of Northern Randolph County, WV). The
moist phase of the Berks series (loamy-skeletal, mixed,
active, mesic Typic Dystrudepts) was correlated in areas with
perudic moisture regime and frigid temperature regime in the
1982 Soil Survey of Randolph County Area, Main Part, WV.
Soils with analogous parent materials, landforms, and
climate regimes were correlated as members of the Gilpin
series in the 1967 Soil Survey of Tucker County and part of
Northern Randolph County, WV. The target map units for this
project occur on summits and backslopes of Middle Mountain
and, to a lesser extent, Allegheny Mountain. This project will
recorrelate these soils to established soil series that have
been correlated for similar landforms, parent materials, and
climate regimes in recent soil survey legends. This will bring
the soil mapping of these areas to more modern standards.